Alan Jones and 2GB: Destroyingthejoint vs the over 65s

A side track into the world of Australian shock jocks: there’s a lot of wacky claims made about Alan Jones and his success in the latest ratings survey.

It’s certainly not in the interest of commercial radio stations to acknowledge that a massive social media campaign like #destroyingthejoint has had an effect not just in scaring away advertisers, but also audiences.

Survey 7 covered 10 weeks with a break in the middle for the school vacation, but only three weeks in the period after Jones’ claim that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father died of shame and the advertising boycott began. As a consequence, any effect of the boycott would be swamped by the results for the rest of the period.

But it’s particularly interesting where Alan Jones’ new audience came from. The ratings rise was across the board at 2GB. While no figures are given for Alan Jones’ breakfast segment in isolation, the broader 2GB numbers are revealing.

The cumulative audience (that is, counting all listeners who tuned in for part of a program, as opposed to the average number of listeners) was up by 14,000 in Survey 7 from Survey 6. There were very small increases in the audience groups aged 24 and under. The 25-39 age group dropped 6,000 listeners to 96,000. The 40-54 age group dropped by 15,000 down to 122,000. The 55-64 age group was up 4,000 to 119,000.

But the move that trumped them all was in the over-65 age group, where listeners jumped by 26,000, to 227,000. The increase in 2GB and Alan Jones numbers comes overwhelmingly from retirees. And that itself is a mystery because national polling shows that the higher approval ratings for Julia Gillard comes from gains in the over 55s segment.

The other feature here is that the cumulative audience figure for 2GB in the last two ratings are some of the lowest numbers they have seen since the start of 2009. It’s a deeply worrying pair of results.

Understanding the tables

For reference, I have compiled the ratings for Alan Jones’ station 2GB dating from the start of 2009.

The tables come in pairs, for the station as a whole, then broken up into the various segments and hosts—notably Alan Jones for breakfast and Ray Hadlee after him for the morning show.

The first pair of tables is the percentage of the audience. 2GB’s share goes from 14.7 per cent to 15.6 per cent in the latest survey, number 7 for 2012. Alan Jones’ breakfast session rose from 16.8 per cent to 17.3 per cent, a little less than the overall gain for the station.

The second pair of tables gives average audience numbers.

The third pair is the cumulative audience totals, which is to say how many people tune in to listen to a part of the program. This is the most interesting in interpreting where the new listeners are coming from.

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